Obtaining New Music for Choreography
One of the most ambitious recent projects aimed at the creation of new music for ballet and modern dance is the Composer/Choreographer Project initiated by Meet the Composer, supported by the Ford Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Over the years, Meet the Composer has been helpful to smaller dance groups as well. The organization is under the leadership of John Duffy, a composer who has collaborated with such fine dance artists as Pearl Lang. Speaking in his office, Mr. Duffy was justifiably proud of his organization's function as a catalyst for new works. 1
Asked whether contemporary music is anathema to most audience members, Mr. Duffy offered reassurance that audiences by and large seem to love hearing--and seeing--fresh works. Moreover, he observed, there seems to be a softening of former harshness in musical style, as well as a kind of spiritual awakening among composers. Whereas some twenty years ago, it seemed as if there was a widespread "ivory tower" attitude on the part of some of our best- trained composers, nowadays they are eager to meet with their audiences--and in fact are writing warmer, more accessible music.
As part of its careful preparations for the Composer/Choreographer Project, Meet the Composer enlisted dance artist Ian Horvath as consultant. He visited thirty leading companies around the United States and wrote a detailed report, which turned out to be a fine overview of professional dance in America today. In it, he noted: